This tug is expected to be one of Singapore’s first autonomous vessels when the project is completed in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Under the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)’s Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund (MINT Fund), Keppel O&M has secured a grant of up to SGD2m ($1.5m) to develop the autonomous tug.
The project follows the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Keppel O&M, MPA and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) in April 2018 to jointly develop autonomous vessels for a variety of applications including undertaking harbour operations such as channelling, berthing, mooring and towing operations.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation with the development of autonomous tugs that are commercially viable. The maritime industry is transforming and we are glad to be able to partner MPA and TCOMS in exploring how to improve the industry with new technologies,” said Chris Ong, ceo of Keppel O&M.
The project will involve modifying a 65-tonne tug by retrofitting advanced systems such as position manoeuvring, digital pilot vision, as well as collision detection and avoidance. An onshore command centre will be set up to remotely control the tug.
Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of MPA, commented: “Autonomous vessel is the next exciting phase of development in the maritime industry and in Maritime Singapore.
“Here, we are constantly looking out for the next new technology to pilot and testbed in an effort to develop Maritime Singapore to be more efficient, productive and technologically advanced. This is one of five autonomous vessel projects that MPA is supporting as part of our Marine Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS) test bedding programme,” she said.
As part of the project, Keppel O&M’s technology arm Keppel Marine and Deepwater Technology (KMDTech) will work with MPA and TCOMS to develop various technologies and be the system integrator for the autonomous solutions.
These technologies include a Digital Twin of the tug to simulate vessel behaviour in multiple scenarios and optimise vessel operations, as well as data analytics tools to improve the control and response of the tug.
Keppel O&M is also partnering with communications network provider M1 to leverage on its ultra-low latency 4.5G network connectivity to establish standards and data transfer links in terms of latency and reliability for ship-to-shore communication, and support mission-critical Internet-of-Things (IoT) maritime applications.